Lyndon Johnson and Europe: In the Shadow of Vietnam / Edition 1

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Overview

Traditionally seen as a master of domestic politics, Lyndon Johnson is frequently portrayed as inept in foreign relations, consumed by the war in Vietnam, and unable to provide vision or leadership for the Western alliance. In this persuasive revisionist history, Thomas Alan Schwartz takes issue with many of the popular and scholarly assumptions about the president seen as the classic "ugly American."

In the first comprehensive study of Johnson's policy toward Europe--the most important theater of the Cold War--Schwartz shows a president who guided the United States with a policy that balanced the solidarity of the Western alliance with the need to stabilize the Cold War and reduce the nuclear danger. He faced the dilemmas of maintaining the cohesion of the alliance, especially with the French withdrawal from NATO, while trying to reduce tensions between eastern and western Europe, managing bitter conflicts over international monetary and trade policies, and prosecuting an escalating war in Southeast Asia.

Impressively researched and engagingly written, Lyndon Johnson and Europe shows a fascinating new side to this giant of twentieth-century American history and demonstrates that Johnson's diplomacy toward Europe deserves recognition as one of the most important achievements of his presidency.

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Editorial Reviews

Foreign Affairs

Schwartz's carefully researched and thoughtfully presented history of Johnson's European policy is not only fascinating for the light it casts on this enigmatic president; it also shows the degree to which today's transatlantic tensions reflect permanent fault lines between Cold War partners.
— Walter Russell Mead

Choice

Schwartz challenges the dominant view of most scholars that Lyndon Baines Johnson, the domestic politics guru, was uninterested, inept, incompetent, and ineffective in foreign policy, a perception enhanced by his Vietnam quagmire. Schwartz contends that Johnson did not separate domestic and foreign policy but always saw the two as part of the same whole, and that he became increasingly adept at shaping and controlling policy on the world stage...This is a first-class piece of scholarship and writing, a very important contribution that must be given utmost attention in any interpretation of the Johnson administration.
— J. P. Dunn

History

Though entitled "In the Shadow of Vietnam", this welcome and necessary contribution to the scholarship of US-European relations during the Johnson presidency demonstrates that there were many other issues beyond Vietnam that exercised the minds of LBJ and his advisers during the 1960s…Through his detailed exploration of the American response to the many problems thrown up in the maelstrom of the 1960s, Schwartz reveals a president who showed restraint and no little sensitivity and skill in his handling of the proud French leader, Charles de Gaulle, to prevent a serious rupture in the Atlantic alliance…This analysis of US-European relations also provides a fascinating portrait of the foreign policymaking process and the ways in which the United States was and is still able to achieve its objectives abroad. Through his examination of the papers of presidential advises and diplomats, Schwartz reveals the influences on the conduct of US foreign policy and the significance of channels and links with agencies and institutions of foreign governments. Such transnational links enabled American officials to secure influence in the decisions-making processes of other nations, thus achieving America's objectives abroad. This most cogently argued and insightful study of US-European relations in the 1960s is an invaluable source for policymakers and students of American foreign policy alike.
— Raj Roy

Randall Woods
An excellent revisionist account of Lyndon Johnson's European policy. Schwartz argues convincingly that LBJ was not the cornpone provincial who neither understood nor cared about other societies. He learned on the job and after concentrating on the domestic successes of 1965, paid careful attention to Europe. This work is the first of several that will begin to place Lyndon Johnson and Vietnam in their proper historical contexts. Clearly and concisely written, this is diplomatic history at its best.
Marc Trachtenberg
This is a perceptive and intelligent study of an important topic: American policy toward Europe during the Johnson period. The subject has been largely ignored in the literature, but European questions were of absolutely central political importance during the Cold War period. Schwartz is reacting against the prevailing negative view of Johnson's foreign policy, and makes a case based on a very serious, highly professional, and exceptionally honest analysis of the evidence. He has an eye for telling details, knows how to integrate them, and he writes very well indeed.
Ernest R. May
Lyndon Johnson and Europe turns on its head the conventional picture of an LBJ who was master of domestic policy but out of his depth in foreign affairs. In fascinating detail, Schwartz shows LBJ personally managing relations with Western Europe and the Soviet Union with skill and insight unmatched by either Kennedy or Nixon and Kissinger. A blockbuster reinterpretation!
Bill Moyers
Thomas Alan Schwartz gets it right. Even as Lyndon Johnson fought what he thought to be a necessary war in Vietnam, he knew America had other interests, the world had other imperatives, and Europe remained, potentially, the most dangerous place of all. In this important and well-researched book, Schwartz admirably begins the task of seeing Johnson--and his times--whole.
Lloyd C. Gardner
Stereotypes fall by the wayside as Schwartz shows us a president with imagination and tact dealing with the tangled issues of German aspirations, Gaullist pretensions, nuclear proliferation, and the developing woes of the dollar crisis. Superbly researched and deftly written, this book will persuade readers to assess LBJ's achievements outside the shadow of
Vietnam.
Michael Beschloss
A superb historian has brought us a fascinating, groundbreaking and deeply researched work that explains important facets of Lyndon Johnson's presidency that have heretofore gone largely unexplored. With Schwartz's surefooted guidance, we can now fully understand how crucial LBJ's approach to Europe turned out to be. This excellent book will change the way that scholars write about Johnson, his foreign policy, and his performance as diplomat-in-chief.
Foreign Affairs - Walter Russell Mead
Schwartz's carefully researched and thoughtfully presented history of Johnson's European policy is not only fascinating for the light it casts on this enigmatic president; it also shows the degree to which today's transatlantic tensions reflect permanent fault lines between Cold War partners.
Choice - J. P. Dunn
Schwartz challenges the dominant view of most scholars that Lyndon Baines Johnson, the domestic politics guru, was uninterested, inept, incompetent, and ineffective in foreign policy, a perception enhanced by his Vietnam quagmire. Schwartz contends that Johnson did not separate domestic and foreign policy but always saw the two as part of the same whole, and that he became increasingly adept at shaping and controlling policy on the world stage...This is a first-class piece of scholarship and writing, a very important contribution that must be given utmost attention in any interpretation of the Johnson administration.
History - Raj Roy
Though entitled "In the Shadow of Vietnam", this welcome and necessary contribution to the scholarship of US-European relations during the Johnson presidency demonstrates that there were many other issues beyond Vietnam that exercised the minds of LBJ and his advisers during the 1960s…Through his detailed exploration of the American response to the many problems thrown up in the maelstrom of the 1960s, Schwartz reveals a president who showed restraint and no little sensitivity and skill in his handling of the proud French leader, Charles de Gaulle, to prevent a serious rupture in the Atlantic alliance…This analysis of US-European relations also provides a fascinating portrait of the foreign policymaking process and the ways in which the United States was and is still able to achieve its objectives abroad. Through his examination of the papers of presidential advises and diplomats, Schwartz reveals the influences on the conduct of US foreign policy and the significance of channels and links with agencies and institutions of foreign governments. Such transnational links enabled American officials to secure influence in the decisions-making processes of other nations, thus achieving America's objectives abroad. This most cogently argued and insightful study of US-European relations in the 1960s is an invaluable source for policymakers and students of American foreign policy alike.
Foreign Affairs
As U.S. diplomats speak of a crisis of confidence in U.S.-German relations, Gerhard Schroder is trying to keep the alliance on track. In France, a powerful, rightist president is setting out to systematically contain and constrain American power as waves of anti-American passion convulse the political scene. Students and left-wing political activists all over Europe are marching against the United States' unilateralist and aggressive war policy. Intellectuals and establishment politicians cannot conceal their contempt of the amateurish, unread, and inexperienced Texas "cowboy" who has inexplicably become president of the great republic. All Europe mourns the glory days of his predecessor, a silver-tongued, centrist Democrat who endeared himself to the Old World as few American leaders ever have. This is, of course, a description of the transatlantic relationship during Lyndon Johnson's presidency. (Former German Foreign Minister Gerhard Schroder is no relation of the present German chancellor.) Schwartz's carefully researched and thoughtfully presented history of Johnson's European policy is not only fascinating for the light it casts on this enigmatic president; it also shows the degree to which today's transatlantic tensions reflect permanent fault lines between the Cold War partners. Johnson, Schwartz argues, managed the relationship reasonably well; let's hope today's Texan in the White House can also cope.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674010741
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 4/15/2003
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 1,017,884
  • Product dimensions: 5.76 (w) x 8.42 (h) x 1.26 (d)

Meet the Author

Thomas Alan Schwartz is Professor of History, Vanderbilt University.
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Table of Contents

Abbreviations Used in Text

Prelude: Lyndon Johnson as the Ugly American

1. Retreat from the Grand Design

2. Policy in the Shadows

3. The French Challenge

4. The Year of Achievements

5. The Long 1968

Epilogue: Lyndon Johnson Reassessed

Appendix: Tables

Abbreviations Used in Notes

Notes

Bibliography

Acknowledgments

Index

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